The National Pencil Company, born April 8th 1908, was a Jewish owned manufacturing aggregate with its business office and factory Headquarters in a four story building located on 37-41 South Forsyth Street in the heart of Atlanta’s industrial sector. The factory was formerly the Venable Hotel and for a short time the Granite Hotel. In physical size, each of the four floors, plus an earthen floor basement, were 14 feet high, 80 feet wide, and 200 feet long.
In 1913 the NPCo had more than 170 employees. Most of the laborers at the NPCo were pre-teen and teenaged girl children who worked 10 hour shifts 5 days week and a half day on Saturday, toiling for mere pennies an hour. Atlanta unofficially allowed children, young as 8 to 10 years old, to work in factories and mills, at the NPCo most of the employees were in the age range of 11 to 16 years, which was considered acceptable at the time, because given the wide spread amounts of extreme poverty, people tended to look the other way, begrudgingly and indignant, for practical reasons.
In total their were three subsidiaries of the NPCo, the slat wood mill, which processed cedar wood into polygonal pencil shafts; the bell lead smelting plant, which produced the thin lead rods inserted in the center of the pencil shafts; and the NPCo factory HQ, where all of the final assembly occurred, before the packaged boxes containing gross pencil inventory were shipped out to various middlemen and direct clients.
Mary Phagan’s job was to run a knurling machine that inserted rubber erasers into pencils’ metal bands.
The Nation Pencil Company’s premises today has become very high value apartments and a shopping centre called … The Pencil Factory!